On Friday, November 3 (November 4 in the print edition), the Wall Street Journal published an article titled Citi to Cardholders: Go Paperless or Else about Citigroup’s decision to cut off all online and app communications with their customers who refuse to go paperless. Two Sides North America sent the following letter to the editors of the WSJ the same day.
Citigroup’s Paperless Mistake
Recent survey data validates the backlash shown on the WSJ website in response to Citigroup’s decision to cut off all electronic communications to consumers who refuse to go paperless. Commissioned by Two Sides North America and conducted by international research firm Toluna, the survey showed that 81% of Americans, including more than half of 18- to 24-year-olds, believe they should have the right to choose between paper and electronic communications from their banks and other service providers, and 73% believe they should not be charged extra for receiving a paper bill or statement. 46% of consumers said they would consider switching to an alternate provider if their current one forced them to go paperless, up from 41% in 2021.
As the WSJ story mentions, other financial institutions succumb to the temptation to wrap similar paperless initiatives in scientifically dubious greenwashing claims, but credit Citigroup at least for not going down that worn out road. Too often we see other banks claiming they’re “improving the environment” by shifting customers to electronic delivery while scrupulously avoiding any mention of the enormous energy and other environmental costs of electronic communication. By comparison, paper is made from an infinitely renewable natural resource (trees grown in sustainably managed forests) in a process that in the U.S. uses mostly renewable bioenergy and consumes very little water. And with a recovery rate of 68%, paper is recycled more than any other material in the U.S. municipal solid waste stream.
Kathi Rowzie, President
Two Sides North America
About Two Sides North America
Two Sides North America (www.twosidesna.org) is part of the non-profit Two Sides global network which includes more than 600 member companies in the print and paper products supply chain across North America, South America, Latin America, Europe, Australia and South Africa. Our mission is to dispel common environmental misconceptions and to inspire and inform businesses and consumers with engaging, factual information about the inherent environmental sustainability and enduring value of print, paper and paper-based packaging.
The Two Sides North America 2023 Trend Tracker Survey queried 1,000 U.S. consumers aged 18 and older in January 2023.